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Judges gain traveled tennis coach

By Lily Wageman

Section: Sports

September 11, 2015

With the new school year and season underway, the tennis team welcomes new assistant coach and equipment manager Michael Kopelman. He joins the Brandeis team after a stint with cross-town rival Bentley University where he was an assistant coach for the men’s and women’s team, his first collegiate coaching experience. He brings with him more than 10 years of experience as an instructor, having coached beginners, top-ranked juniors and aspiring professionals, including 2013-2014 NCAA women’s champion Danielle Collins.

Before transferring to Boston University, where Kopelman earned his B.A. in economics in 2013, Kopelman spent two years playing club tennis at Florida State University. While at BU he was a two-time captain for the Division I team, earning America East Conference Player of the Week honors in 2011 and two All-AEC double honors. Kopelman describes one of his proudest moments during his collegiate years for the Terriers as, “coming back from 5 -1 down in the third, to clinch the match against Army.”

While at Brandeis, Kopelman hopes to continue on a winning culture and push the tennis program to new heights. Last spring the men’s team ended the season with a regional rank of #10 and national rank of #29 while the women’s team was ranked #10 regionally and #27 nationally. By the end of the 2015-2016 season, Kopelman would like it if both teams finish nationally in the top 15.

During practices and matches, the tennis team should expect an atmosphere of high energy and competition. Kopelman places a lot of value in maintaining this sort of atmosphere, especially during practices because, in his opinion, “It is important to have healthy competition among teammates in order to bring out the best in each other. If this is happening at practice, it will translate into matches.”

Even with these high expectations for the 2015-2016 tennis teams, Kopelman still believes that academics are always first for student-athletes. However, it is the student-athlete’s responsibility to fit in academics around practice times since these are “pretty set [in] stone.” While any student-athlete knows how daunting it can be to balance academics, practices and other extracurriculars, Kopelman offers some sound advice on how to manage such a task. “The best advice I think I could give is to work as hard as you can at your craft,” Kopelman explained. “It can seem overwhelming at times being a student-athlete, but try not to cheat yourself or your teammates. Max out whatever you may have that day, whether that is 70 percent or 100 percent”

Kopelman’s knowledge and passion for tennis is clear as he begins his first season as assistant coach with the Brandeis teams. According to the Brandeis athletes webpage, Head Coach Ben Lamanna describes Kopelman as “[having] a strong tactical understanding of the college game and a great way of communicating his knowledge.” He goes on to say, “I also admire his path to get here—from club tennis at Florida State, to D1 tennis at Boston University, and an assistant coach at D2 Bentley. I know he is ready to make an immediate impact on our team culture and performance on the court. I can’t wait to get started with him.”

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